When my grandpa began his well deserved retirement from working at the Coca Cola factory in Germany, he wanted nothing more than to tend to his garden. What a magnificent garden it was. It changed according to the seasons and had the most delicious fruits and vegetables. It was my happy place, too. I climbed all the apple, cherry, and pear trees, picked strawberries, gooseberries, plums, carrots, green beans and devoured them until my belly hurt. I loved helping him sow the seeds, water, harvest, haul the potatoes and onions into the root cellar. Everything was done with so much love.
Two weeks after his retirement he developed a toothache. My grandpa was never ill, not even with so much as a cold, and has never been to a doctor for any reason. His daily ritual of taking a shot of vodka before braving the elements and making his way to work on a bus always made me laugh. I loved watching him do that. While he was sitting in the dentist chair he had a stroke. They didn’t take his blood pressure or realized how anxious he was. Two weeks after that he had another stroke. Paralyzed on the left side of his body, he was in constant pain. My grandma had to lock the basement door and hide the key to prevent him from throwing himself down the stairs. Seasons past and unable to tend to his garden, he watched as more and more of his beautiful garden turned into a grassy ordinary yard.
I did not know what retirement really meant, but I saw how defeated my grandpa looked and it made me feel so so sad. Before I ever held my first job I made a pact with myself to retire early, to enjoy life, to do what I truly loved and what inspired me. Over the years that desire has never shifted or faded in the background. On the contrary, it was in the forefront of most everything I did. I had some setbacks, no doubt, but those made my desire to retire early only stronger. To be sure, I’m not retiring to sit in a rocking chair on my front porch with a shotgun in my arm, yelling at kids to get off my lawn. I am retiring from a solid, benefited position I held since 1995, and that translates to 50 % of my pension, 10 years of having to pay for my own health insurance, and a mortgage payment for a house I just purchased in April. Yes, I’m aware. Unthinkable for most, yet I have never been afraid of not having enough money. I let that shit go a long time ago. I will always have more than enough. I might not be able to buy my Tesla, but honestly, if I really wanted to, I would find a way. I find ways, I guess that’s it. When I really want something, I go after it. Unconventional ways, most of the time, but they got me here to this point, and I can say that I am very excited, and not the least bit scared, or maybe I have my feelings mixed up, let me check, nah I’m excited for sure. So it’s a date then…….March 31st, 2019.